Keeping up a blog takes a lot of time and effort. In order to keep the blogging habit sustainable, it’s natural that it should be monetized.
Easier said than done, am I right?
Everyone knows that you can monetize blogs with advertisements through AdSense. While that is a tactic that works for some, you have to get to the point when you have enough traffic to actually feel any significant impact from that income stream.
So, in the meantime, what’s the best way to monetize your blog?
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on heavy traffic to be able to begin – it’s very possible to monetize your blog without AdSense. In fact, there are many strategies to mix and match to create your perfect balance of diversified income, that doesn’t rely solely on website traffic.
Here’s a step by step guide to monetizing your blog:
Step 1: Consider your options
AdSense is oldschool and well known. And while yes, it certainly counts as a way to monetize your blog, it only really brings in substantial income when you reach a significant amount of traffic (not to mention having to reach the $100 threshold before cashing out). Until then, how are you supposed to make any money?
The good news is, you have plenty of options.
We’ll take a look at:
- Paid partnerships
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling your own products
Paid partnerships are a collaboration between yourself and a brand that wishes to be highlighted in front of your audience or readers.
Brands can pay in the form of cash or in-kind (the product itself), it’s up to you if you want to engage in this. They may also offer a discount code to entice your audience to buy the product, which may be considered a bonus for them. Note that it is now a requirement (under the FTC in the USA and the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK) to disclose when you are showing your audience an advertisement – therefore they will know that this content isn’t impartial.
Additional income streamHigh profit margin
Your audience knows you’re not giving an impartial opinion
You’re expected to give a positive review, otherwise, you may not be paid
The personal finance blog called The Financial Diet discloses when a blog post has been created as a result of a paid partnership. In this case, they’ve teamed up with Credit Repair.
This is one of the go-to’s for bloggers. The reason being there are affiliate opportunities for so many different niches. Not to mention – Amazon has an affiliate program, and who wouldn’t be able to suggest something from Amazon?
The way affiliate marketing works is that you get a unique link for a product that someone else is selling, and for every purchase of that product that is made from a visitor who accessed the page through your link, you receive a percentage of the profit. For example, Amazon offers up to 10% commission on affiliate sales.
As the affiliate partner, it’s in your interest to have as many people possible purchase those external products through your link, so that you can earn more profit through your commission.
Amazon isn’t the only ecommerce platform to offer affiliate programs, in fact, there are countless of affiliate products in countless niches. Here’s one list to get you going.
Additional income streams
Low barrier to entry
Easy to find products in your niche with affiliate programs
Can be easily placed in blogs and social media
Your audience knows you aren’t impartial – you want them to buy
Non-exclusive – anyone can sell the same product
Subject to changes in policy
Small profit margin
Here, beauty blogger Liana Desu writes about money-saving tips, and her first tip is to use Ebates – a rebate tool for ecommerce. Ebates is a common affiliate product, as sharing it seems like sound advice for the reader.
Selling your own products
Placing your own products up for sale through your website and blog is one method that gives you complete control, as well as complete profit since you don’t have to share it with anyone else.
This is the method that has possibly the highest added value for the customer because the product is unique. It comes from you, and therefore isn’t going to be hawked by just anyone trying to make a quick buck.
Your own sold products can take many forms, it can be your own photo presets, merchandise, digital recipe book or health plan through selling PDFs. The options are limitless.
Additional income stream
Unique ownership of the product
High profit margin
Higher barrier to entry
Kristina Braley sells her own photo presets on her website, called Honey Presets. She has added a “Buy now” button to purchase the presets at the bottom of a persuasive landing page where she describes the presets and demonstrates them in action.
Step 2: Prepare your materials
From here on out, we’ll be focusing on selling digital products as a means to monetize your blog.
Before you’re able to jump to selling your products, you have to do a little bit of homework – creating the actual product.
How to choose a product
The key here is to create a digital product. If you don’t know what to sell, you can get inspired by this list of 101 digital product ideas you can sell.
Some best-selling digital products are:
- Sound bites
- Photo presets
- Design templates
To choose what you want to sell, first consider what you are capable of making and what brings value to your readers.
First, consider your audience. What content are they expecting at your blog?
Then, consider how you can help them even more. What product could you sell that would help your readers implement the lessons that you’re talking about on your blog?
Here are a few ideas:
- Do you specialize in photography? Then you might want to consider selling Lightroom presets to help readers become better photographers..
- Do you specialize in music? Then you might want to consider selling drum beats or other mixable soundbites to help readers mix better music.
- Do you specialize in cooking? Then you might want to consider selling exclusive recipes as PDFs to help readers in the kitchen.
- Do you specialize in fitness? Then you might want to consider selling workout or meal plans to help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
The opportunities are endless, and you’re only limited to your own creativity. There are only a few rules of thumb to follow when considering digital products:
- Are they unique (not available for free somewhere else on your blog)?
- Do they offer something valuable that your reader would want?
- Can you package it into one digital file?
If you can answer yes to each one of these, then you may be on to something. All that’s left now, is actually making the product itself!
Create the product
Whatever it is you decide to sell, you’ll have to produce the product itself – what the buyers will receive. You have to choose what the format will be, and how they will receive it. Essentially, you’re creating their “unboxing” experience.
For example, if your product is going to be workout and meal plans, you can not only write them up in a word document, but format it nicely. You can try to format it yourself, or use some of the free, aesthetically pleasing document templates from Canva.
In Sellfy, the purchased item is delivered as one file. If you have multiple components (such as a bundle of presents, a set of workouts, or a collection of recipes), you can create a zipped folder with each of the components separately listed and named. That way, when your buyer opens the file, they have a good idea as to where to start and where to find each component.
Step 3: Set up your blog
When you know what you’re selling, you’ve got your digital product, all that’s left is to launch your product for sale. With Sellfy, you can put the product up for sale, generate a “buy” button, and place it directly into your blog post.
A direct “buy” button in a blog helps to clearly state when a product is being sold. What’s more, is that you can use your blog post as a persuasive mechanism to gently guide your reader towards a purchase.
Upload the product to Sellfy
First, go to your “Products” tab on the left-hand side and select “add products”. Fill out the required information – the files that you’ll be giving your buyers, the price you’re selling it at, as well as the information such as the name and description of the product along with screenshots and product images.
Once you’ve filled out the information about your product, click the “save product” button. The product will appear in your “digital products” tab.
Get the code
When looking at the “Digital products” tab, you’ll see all of the products you manage. To get the code for the button of the product you intend on selling, click on the “Share” button next to it. You’ll be shown this window:
There are three options for demonstrating a buying feature on your blog or webpage (the second two options are available under the “other embed types” button):
- The small “buy now” button that you see in the popup above
- The product card – where you see the image, the name of the product, the price, and the “buy now” button
- Your entire store view – all of your store’s listed products demonstrated as products cards.
Here’s what a product card looks like:
Here’s what the store looks like in the blog post, when you have two products (more than two products will create a scrollable window effect).
For whichever type of embedded view you want to add, simply copy the code from under “get code”.
Place the buy button on your blog
This will vary, depending on where you host your blog. But for most blogs, you have the window where you can write and format your blog posts, as well as the option to click over to the HTML, code version of what you’ve written.
In order to place the button into your blog post, click over to the code version.
If you’re looking to monetize your WordPress blog, you simply go to the three dots on the top right-hand side of the screen, and select “Code editor”.
Then you’ll see the same content but in HTML formatting.
Scroll to the place where you want to see your button, and paste it in.
Make sure to paste it in between paragraphs, so that you don’t break up any previous formatting.
Update your page, and you’re done!
Check your page to make sure that the button is intact, and also submit a test purchase to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Divide and conquer – diversification is always a good idea
It’s a good idea to diversify your income streams so that all of your eggs aren’t in one basket – that basket can disappear (for example, at the change of an algorithm, or a change in revenue policy from affiliate platforms).
For that reason, when looking at monetizing your blog, the answer likely does not lie in only one monetization solution, but rather in putting together a suite of income streams to bring you revenue from multiple resources.
Affiliate marketing and paid partnerships can be used, but in order to provide maximum value (and maximum profit) without making your viewers feel used, consider creating your own unique products to supplement your blogging income.
Ritvars is the marketing lead at Sellfy.